Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Daring Bakewell Tart of a Farewell

This month's Daring Baker Challenge, the scrumptious Bakewell Tart


as hosted by my friend Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar, marks my twenty-second Daring Baker Challenge and the perfect way to say so long and farewell to my career as a Daring Baker.

I've been a Daring Baker since March 2007, starting with the Red Velvet Cake.


Some of the highlights of my Daring Baker sorjourn were the Gateau St. Honore


where I mastered my fear of puff pastry (and managed to burn myself for the 100th time with hot sugar), the Potato Bread challenge


where I made that really awesome wheat sheath bread from the world's stickiest dough, and my stint as co-hostess with my twin of different mother sister, Sara of I Like To Cook, where we made over 600 people spend 12+ hours in the kitchen and read twenty pages of recipe making Julia Child's French Bread.


I lived through the frustrating and infamous Martha Stewart Crepe Cake


and burning myself yet again with hot molten sugar

the bounce like rubber Mirror Cake


and the Milk Caramel Tart that landed on the floor of my car while I was transporting it.

When I was asked to join by the incomparable Lisa and Ivonne there were less than twenty Daring Bakers and most of us were located in North America. Now there are over 1,000 members world wide! I've become good friends with some of my Daring Baker Sisters and Brothers: Elle, Helen, Veron, Dharm, Jenny, Tanna, Ilva, Peabody, Brilynn, Mary, Christina, and Kelly to name but a few of the incredible people I met because I was a Daring Baker. Without this fantastic group called Daring Bakers, I would never have been exposed to so many fellow food bloggers. Thank you one and all for two and almost half fabulous years!

So, what did I think of this month's challenge, my farewell challenge, the Bakewell Tart?

Well, if it is any indication of how good it was, only the Danish Braid

June 08 DB Apricot Danish

was demolished by my office taste testers faster! It lasted less than 10 minutes and I could make the frangipane to eat straight from the bowl, raw eggs be damned!

Since this a traditional British tart and it is strawberry season right now both here and at Wimbledon, I decided to use a very British jam, Hartley's to spread on the bottom of the sweet shortcrust


and sprinkled slivered almonds on top the frangipane before baking the tart until golden brown.


It was so easy and quick that I'm going to be making another one of these this week while on the sailboat but I think I'll use fresh Michigan cherries and apricots for part of the filling.

Thanks Jasmine and Annemarie for a British staple that will now be a go to staple in my kitchen. It was the perfect challenge on which to go out with a bang!

To see my fellow Daring Bakers tarts you can visit some of them here.

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Bakewell Tart

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin, One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows), Bench flour (AP flour for dusting your rolling surface),250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz))jam or curd warmed for spreadability, One quantity frangipane (recipe follows),
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking. The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It's a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn't have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time:15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes: I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar. If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Prep time:10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour. Annemarie’s notes:
• Add another five minutes or more if you're grinding your own almonds or if you're mixing by hand (Heaven help you).